Mo­ceyawa fully mended and am­bi­tious

Tau­ranga ju­doka fight­ing fit af­ter in­jury

Bay of Plenty Times - - Sport - Kristin Macfar­lane Judo The Karate Kid.

In 2016 Ana Mo­ceyawa was sweep­ing her foot along the mat dur­ing her judo train­ing just as she had done many times be­fore.

The only dif­fer­ence this par­tic­u­lar time, and the rea­son it is such a mem­o­rable ses­sion, is the snap she heard while do­ing it.

That snap was her leg break­ing — an in­jury that men­tally scarred her for about 18 months.

“It was an Olympic year too and all my mates were go­ing to the [Rio] Olympics,” Mo­ceyawa says.

“I was just real down, I couldn’t do any­thing.

“I was feel­ing sorry for my­self.” She went and sur­rounded her­self with fam­ily and, when she re­turned, her head coach at the Tau­ranga Judo Club, Kevin Ka­vanagh, sat her down, asked what she wanted to do and helped her come up with a train­ing plan that would work for her.

Al­though she re­cov­ered from the in­jury phys­i­cally, it wasn’t un­til the sec­ond half of 2017 that she was feel­ing con­fi­dent again.

Slowly, but surely Mo­ceyawa says she “came back stronger”.

There was a lot that went into her re­cov­ery and the sup­port from her Tau­ranga Judo Club fam­ily was a big part of it.

“We re­ally are re­spected here, you re­ally are treated equal.”

“I’ve never seen so much fo­cus,” Tau­ranga Judo Club pres­i­dent Blair Win­ders says of Mo­ceyawa.

Now she trains two or three times a day de­pend­ing on her strength and con­di­tion­ing timetable at the Uni­ver­sity of Waikato Adams Cen­tre for High Per­for­mance and is back to train­ing hard to achieve her goals.

She hopes to rep­re­sent New Zealand in judo at the 2022 Com­mon­wealth Games, when it will be­come a core sport. This is ex­cit­ing news for Mo­ceyawa, who hopes it will prompt more fe­males to take up the sport.

The com­bat sport, which orig­i­nated in Ja­pan, de­vel­ops self­de­fence. Ath­letes throw their op­po­nents from a stand­ing po­si­tion to the ground or pin them down with dif­fer­ent tech­niques.

It’s a sport 29-year-old Mo­ceyawa be­came in­ter­ested in at the age of 10. Her knowl­edge was lim­ited, with most of her ex­po­sure to mar­tial arts com­ing from an ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the movie clas­sic,

“My friend took me to a com­pe­ti­tion and I thought the suits were cool,” Mo­ceyawa says.

That com­pe­ti­tion was the South Is­land champs in Christchurch, where she grew up, and she joined up af­ter­wards. Two weeks later she had en­tered her first com­pe­ti­tion, spark­ing a pas­sion that ob­vi­ously con­tin­ues to­day.

And for good rea­son — she was good it.

“I did a com­pe­ti­tion and won with­out know­ing,” she says of that first club com­pe­ti­tion.

“I liked the sense of win­ning, I guess from a young age I was com­pet­i­tive,” she said. “That’s why I stuck at it.” Learn­ing to throw some­one around was also an ap­peal­ing fac­tor of judo, Mo­ceyawa says of the sport she de­scribes as a gen­tle mar­tial art. She says her brother and sis­ter were also “very good” in the sport but they didn’t carry on.

In 2015 Mo­ceyawa moved to Tau­ranga to in­crease her skills in both judo and wrestling, be­cause it was closer to com­pe­ti­tions in Auck­land and to be able to have more fe­male train­ing part­ners.

She was keen to cross-train, some­thing that was wel­comed at the Tau­ranga Judo Club, and it turned out she ex­celled at that, too.

“I grew up do­ing judo. I did wrestling to help my judo.”

Judo wasn’t on the ros­ter for the Com­mon­wealth Games this year but Mo­ceyawa was se­lected for the New Zealand wrestling team at the

Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth games. This was just one of her many achieve­ments in the sport.

She was the 2016 and 2017 Oceania cham­pion and won a bronze medal in 2017 at the Com­mon­wealth Cham­pi­onships in Jo­han­nes­burg South Africa in wrestling’s un­der 57kg di­vi­sion.

And just last month, she scored a na­tional wrestling ti­tle in the 63kg se­nior women di­vi­sion at a com­pe­ti­tion in Dunedin, which was fol­lowed by gold at the Na­tional Judo Cham­pi­onships in Christchurch at the end of Oc­to­ber.

She has se­cured na­tional ti­tles in both sports for two years and she wants to re­tain them well be­yond that.

De­spite suc­cess in both sports, her first love is judo and she has big goals in the sport. At her age, she be­lieves she is ready.

“I think I can go fur­ther in judo. “I’m a lot bet­ter than I was when I was 18.”

PHOTO / AN­DREW WARNER

Tau­ranga Judo Club’s Ana Mo­ceyawa in ac­tion.

Ana Mo­ceyawa.

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